Ten Top Reasons New York State is a Cleantech Leader

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Over the past 25 years, the State of New York has been a national leader in many cleantech initiatives, including its state-wide programs to promote renewable and sustainable energies, reductions in carbon emissions, and recycling programs, just to name a few. Specifically, the State of New York has created administrative agencies to promote research and development, and empowered them to invest in technologies that create and retain good jobs, grow the economy, and advance its global competitiveness. It has also established some of the most ambitious carbon reduction goals in the United States and has set policy, regulatory and funding mechanisms in motion to produce large scale structural changes in its economy, business practices, and energy efficiency to create true innovation.

1) State Investments in Cleantech. The Office of the New York State Comptroller has committed $500 million to be invested over 3 years in cleantech funds through its Green Strategic Investment Program. The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) annually finances $600 million in programs to advance the uses of energy and environmental efficient technology and renewable energy sources in ways that promote sustainable economic development. For instance, NYSERDA recently committed $250 million in funding for electric generation projects using wind, hydroelectric, biomass or other clean-energy resources. New York State also recently committed $25 million to the New York Battery and Energy Storage Consortium (NY-BEST) to create a nationally-recognized center for energy storage technology research and development. Its efforts have been validated by GE Global Research’s recent investment of $250 million on advanced battery research and manufacturing facilities near Albany.

2) State Incentives for Green Businesses. The State of New York offers many incentives to businesses that elect to go green, including a personal tax credit of up to two million dollars per building over a period of five years to buildings that meet different “green” standards, property tax incentives such as property tax abatements for photovoltaic equipment expenditures, exemptions for solar, wind, and biomass energy systems, state rebate programs, utility rebate programs for companies that practice energy conservation and efficiency, industry recruitments and support, and economic recovery funding.

3) Increased Employment Opportunities. New York’s Renewable Energy Task Force has concluded that more than 43,000 jobs would be created in the process of shifting only 25 percent of the state’s electricity needs to production by renewable means. In July 2009, in order to grow the cleantech sector and create jobs in NYC, NYSERDA provided a $1.5 million grant to the New York Accelerator for a Renewable Economy (NYC ACRE). NYC-ACRE is now an accelerator for promising cleantech entrepreneurs that provides extensive co-located resources along with physical space, and houses numerous successful cleantech companies. Because of recent job losses throughout New York State due to the recent recession, this and other efforts to increase cleantech job opportunities could not have come at a better time.

4) Renewable Energy Task Force and Plan. The Renewable Energy Task Force consists of a number of stakeholders in the field of renewable energy as well as alternative fuel industries, public utilities, agricultural and environmental communities, state and local governments, and energy policy experts, with a goal to increase the development of renewable energy and energy independence to attract the investment of clean energy industries into New York State. The Plan includes reducing electricity use by 15% from forecasted levels in 2015, new standards in appliance efficiency, creation of stronger energy-related codes for buildings, and investment into projects around the state dealing with renewable energy.

5) Greenhouse Gas Inventory and Reduction. Because of the desire to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and the promotion of energy independence, renewable energy, and energy efficiency, New York State has been involved in several major programs to increase the impact of cleantech in the state. These programs include the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (the nation’s first market-based, mandatory cap-and-trade program), The Climate Registry, adoption of California State vehicle emission standards, climate smart communities, the Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard (30% of electricity from renewable sources by 2015), Green Buildings, and the NYSERDA Adaption Study on climate change.

6) New York Energy Smart Program. Created by NYSERDA, the New York Energy Smart Program was designed to increase the impact of renewable energy on all walks of life to reduce energy usage as well as costs. It provides energy efficient programs for owners of existing homes and new homes, low and medium income renters and homeowners, multifamily buildings, teachers, studies, businesses, and individuals interested in purchasing products to assist with energy efficiency. This program has an outreach program, energy education, clean energy training, and where to go to purchase energy efficient products.

7) Moving Toward Increased Use of Renewable Energy in New York City. New York City is the largest city in the United States and the fourth largest in the world by population. As such, it uses a vast amount of electricity every day, and has been very actively looking for ways to lower electricity bills by decreasing its electricity usage and increasing its use of renewable energy. For instance, the New York City Economic Development Corporation released a Request for Expressions of Interest to develop new and innovative ideas to assist the city in the development of renewable energy sources, including off-shore wind farms, wind turbines on bridges and skyscrapers, and using tidal, geothermal, and solar power.

8 ) The MTA is Going Green. With the recent investment into green businesses and the large number of investments into renewable energy, the Metropolitan Transit Authority, known by most as the MTA, has created plans for a number of cleantech initiatives such as green roofs, wind and solar power, water management and regenerative braking. The MTA runs the New York City subway, rail, and bus systems, which require more than 600 megawatts of energy per day. Because of its increased emphasis on becoming more energy efficient, the MTA stands to save hundreds of thousands of dollars every year. One of the things the MTA is looking into is generating roughly 14% of its total power from the use of wind turbines and tidal energy.

9) Even the Taxis are Going Green. Anyone who has been to New York City knows its streets are lined with yellow taxi cabs. Because of the emissions generated by taxis, the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission Board of Commissioners have created a financial incentive program to elevate the number of fuel efficient taxi cabs that are environmentally friendly. Fuel efficient taxi cabs are going to save the average driver around $5,000 annually. The goal is to have a fully hybrid taxi cab fleet by the year 2012.

10) Creation of Multiple New York Non-Profits. More groups are being created to assist in driving the overall impact of renewable energy in New York. For example, the Alliance for Clean Energy New York (ACE NY) works to promote the usage of renewable clean electricity technologies and efficiency throughout the state. Its goals are to increase energy security and diversity, increase overall economic development, greatly improve public health, and decrease total air pollution.

Article co-written by Shawn Lesser & Joe Daniel.

Shawn Lesser is president and founder of Atlanta-based Sustainable World Capital, which is focused on fund-raising for private equity cleantech/sustainable funds, as well as private cleantech companies and M&A. He is also a co- founder of the GCCA Global Cleantech Cluster Association, and can be reached at shawn.lesser@sworldcap.com

Joe Daniels is a partner and the chair of the emerging companies and venture capital group at Hodgson Russ, LLP, where he focuses on representing startup to mature public companies, funds and banks involved in high-growth sectors including cleantech, financing and M&A transactions. For more information on Joe, see his bio here.

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